Coconut oil or Copra oil is extracted from the kernel of matured and dried coconuts (Copra) from the coconut palms.
A decade ago, coconut oil was frowned upon by most health experts for its saturated fat content. Unfortunately, a few ‘saturated fats’ disapprovers of the ‘old school food conservatives’ do not love it still.
Recent studies have changed the table in favor of coconut oil….now it is considered the king of all cooking oils. Many health gurus have classified it under the “Superfood” category.
This oil is unique for its nutritious quality and the number of health benefits and uses it has. It is excellent for health as it has a good combination of fatty acids and healthy cholesterol good for the health of the heart.
This oil helps in improving brain functioning and aids in weight loss.
In this article, I shall briefly discuss nine important benefits of coconut oil…most of which have verified human study backing.
1. Coconut Oil Is Very Nutritious And Healthy
Virgin coconut oil is the best-known source of natural fatty acids. It is true that 90% of it has saturated fat, but this saturated fat is healthy and harmless to the heart.
For a couple of decades, back all forms of saturated fats were condemned to be bad for health ….a total misconception that arose out of some flawed studies. Most of the advanced studies in recent times, which included thousands of people, prove that the “artery-clogging” idea was a total falsehood and myth.
The saturated fat in coconut oil is healthy and beneficial unlike the saturated fats found in steak or cheese.
Health scientists in the past failed to distinguish between the different types of fatty acids and their effects on health.
It is the long-chain fatty acids normally found in some of the saturated fat diets that cause some harm to the health.
The coconut oil contains so-called Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which metabolize differently from the long-chain fatty acids.
This oil is very rich in lauric acid which is scarcely found in other natural sources.
In fact, about 62% of saturated fat in coconut oil is medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are fast digestible and quickly absorbable by the cell membranes.
The biggest health advantage of MCFAs is their easy convertibility into energy by the liver…resulting in NO unhealthy fat storage. This is what makes coconut oil the healthiest cooking oil.
You can get sufficient coconut oil into your diet if you use it as the cooking oil…..or else you need to add it to your salads and dishes as a tastemaker. Some people like to substitute the sweetener in tea or coffee with coconut powder. It is also found this oil can greatly help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
And so you can even think of taking a spoon of coconut oil along with your daily vitamin intake for better effectiveness.
The liver can quickly turn the coconut oil into so-called ketone bodies (ready to use a source of energy)…it is useful for countering brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and epileptic seizures.
2. Coconut Oil Helps In Weight Loss
The biggest health hazard of this century is the obesity epidemic that has already affected nearly 30% of the world population.
Obesity has a lot to do with the type of calories and fats we consume. Calories from some sources are more critical to obesity conditions than others.
All saturated fats (even others) are not as bad as it was thought to be. It is actually the long-chain fatty acids that wreak havoc on health….fortunately, the coconut mostly contains Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are healthy fats good for the body. The MCTs boost energy expenditure and greatly reduce fat storage.
There are study results that have shown how the energy expenditure increases by 5 to 8% by having about 25 grams of MCTs per day. This means that a good bit of calories get burned (about 120 calories) by having foods that contain Medium-chain triglycerides.
The coconut oil rich in MCTs gradually helps in weight loss by increasing energy expenditure.
Unlike the other saturated fats, coconut oil with MCTs does not increase belly fat. If the abdominal fat deposit is controlled, obesity issues will begin to disappear soon.
One of the studies had 40 women with abdominal obesity administered with 1 ounce of coconut oil per day for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, all the participants had achieved a noticeable decrease in waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI).
On average 2.86 cm reduction in waist circumference was achieved when 20 obese men consumed 30ml coconut oil per day for four weeks.
In the studies mentioned above, the weight loss results with coconut oil supplements were achieved without calorie restriction and weight loss workouts. The participants lost belly fat simply by including 30ml coconut oil in their regular daily diet.
Fat-rich foods quickly suppress the appetite as they are instant energy sources. Coconut oil produces twin effects of appetite suppression and faster energy expenditure that will certainly help in weight loss.
The ‘appetite suppressing’ characteristic of coconut oil is because of the fat mobilization of fatty acids in it and the ketone bodies developed out of it by the liver.
In one of the studies, it was observed when six healthy men were given varying amounts of medium and long-chain triglycerides, the men who had MCTs intake, ate 256 fewer calories per day.
Another study (included 14 men) proved that eating MCTs-rich food at breakfast significantly reduces the need for more calorie intake at lunch.
The above results achieved in those short-term studies indicate MCTs-rich coconut consumption regularly could be a good option for a long-term weight loss solution.
If you want a quick energy boost, it is good to have a spoon of coconut oil along with your food. It is safe and does not create an insulin spike in the blood as well.
3. Coconut Oil Nourishes And Protects The Hair
A few decades ago coconut oil was mostly known as hair nourishment oil than cooking oil.
This oil has several benefits to the care and protection of hair. It contains essential nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin K, and iron required for the nourishment of hair. The lauric acid in it easily binds with hair proteins to strengthen the roots of the hair strands and stops the fall of the hair.
It is found that women and men in tropical islands, who mostly use this oil for cooking and hair conditioning, have healthy long black hair than others.
It is a good pre-shampoo conditioner that will make the hair look healthy and shining.
It is best used by massaging a sufficient amount of this oil on your scalp and hair about an hour before the shower and washing it away with a good organic shampoo.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties in this oil help in getting rid of dandruff and lice. It also prevents hair fall due to the bacterial and fungal formation of the scalp.
Coconut oil also prevents “the frizzies” in humid weather. This oil is exceptionally good for removing dryness in hair and making the hair look lustrous and healthy with a natural shine.
4. Skin Can Be Moisturized, Rejuvenated, And Whitened With Coconut Oil
There is no other oil like coconut oil that has so many varied uses and advantages.
For centuries it has been used by people for cosmetic purposes, especially to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin.
There are verified reports that recommend this oil for improving the lipid content of the skin and for moisturizing.[
This oil has the ability to block the ultraviolet rays of the sun from damaging and tanning the skin texture. It is found that the application of coconut oil-based lotion on the skin surface reduces the effects of UV rays by 20% or more.
Coconut oil is also used for oil pulling….just like the normal mouth wash. The antibacterial properties of this oil kill all the harmful bacteria in the mouth to reduce bad breath and improve dental health.
Most natural skincare lotions have coconut oil as one of the prominent ingredients. In Indian Ayurvedic medicines, there are several healing massages and rejuvenation treatments that use this oil as a major ingredient.
5. Coconut Oil Is The Healthiest Of All Cooking Oils
In my opinion and going by the health facts, coconut oil is a very good cooking oil. It is healthy because it will not get burned or damaged even at a very high temperature, unlike most other cooking oils. Its ‘smoke point’ is much greater than all other cooking oils.
This oil has a delicious flavor……even the popcorns, French fries, and chocolate cookies are made tastier with coconut oils.
It is also much cheaper than most other cooking oil.
This oil also has a very long shelf life as it does not go rancid fast. It is easy to preserve this oil at room temperature without getting damaged over a year or two.
Even if it gets rancid, it is actually the unsaturated oil that is naturally present in this at a very small portion that goes bad.
There are several island countries and coastal regions in the world where people use coconut as a staple diet. They use the coconut kernel as food or as a major ingredient in preparing various dishes.
Just for example in the Southern states of India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), coconut is heavily used as a major ingredient in all food preparations, and this oil is exclusively used for all cooking and frying.
The people of Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific, meet 60% of their calorie requirements exclusively by consuming coconuts kernel, and oil. Interestingly, those people are in the best of health, and heart ailments are quite rare among them.
There is plenty of actual evidence from the population around the world to show that coconut is healthy food and the saturated fat in it is not harmful as it is falsely maligned by certain self-proclaimed “health gurus”.
6. Coconut Oil Helps In Improving The Immune System And Fights Infections
Coconut oil has the ability to eliminate harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses as it has Lauric Acid and monolaurin in it.
Monolaurin is a kind of monoglyceride that is formed in the process of coconut oil digestion.
The carbon-12 Lauric Acid and Monolaurin from this oil have the ability to kill the bacteria ‘Staphylococcus Aureus’ and the bacteria that causes yeast infection called ‘yeast Candida Albicans.’
Coconut oil is known for its ability to destroy all kinds of microbes that are harmful to the body. Those who blindly criticize coconut oil for its saturated fats should certainly take note of the several benefits of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is used in traditional medicines for centuries. It is used as one of the major ingredients in medicines to be taken internally or applied externally.
The monolaurin created out of Lauric Acid even kills lipid-coated viruses like herpes, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa.
It is clear from the discussion above that fatty acids in coconut oil have very rich medicinal properties that suppress the activities of harmful microbes.
7. Coconut Oil Improves Of The Health Of The Heart
One or two decades ago, this oil was a forbidden diet that must be strictly avoided by all heart patients. This oil was demonized for the saturated fat content, ‘without knowing all saturated fats are not equal.
The saturated fat in this oil does not harm the lipid profile of the blood, and so it is good for the heart.
Recent study results indicate that this oil actually increased HDL cholesterol and decreased the LDL cholesterol level in the blood.
In one of the comparative studies done on coconut and soybean oils’ effect on health, among the 40 participating women, the 20 women who took coconut oil showed a noticeable increase in HDL cholesterol and a decrease in LDL cholesterol. But it was not the case with soybean oil.
Other animal studies, especially those conducted on rats, indicated a reduction in triglycerides that give rise to LDL cholesterol when they were fed on coconut oil. Those studies also showed improvement in antioxidant status and improvement in blood coagulation.
Several other recent studies also indicate the ability of coconut oil to promote healthy blood cholesterol conditions ideal for a healthy heart. It is a sheer myth that coconut oils cause heart diseases.
8. Coconut Oil Has Medicinal Value In Fighting Diseases
We have already discussed how the carbon-12 Lauric Acid and Monolaurin from coconut oil can destroy many of the harmful microbes in the body.
Currently, one of the emerging discoveries in the medical research field is the ability of ketogenic elements from diets to cure various health disorders that do not have effective medications till now.
As we discussed before the MCTs in coconut oils are quickly converted into ketone bodies by the liver.
Some studies indicated that ketone bodies from coconut oil have therapeutic power for treating Epileptic seizures in children.
Children who ate more ‘fat’ than carbohydrates, especially coconut fat, increased the ketone bodies in their blood. This particular diet habit was tested in children suffering from Epileptic seizures; it dramatically stopped or reduced the epileptic attacks. It is probably because of the ketosis supplied by the ketone bodies that prevented the epileptic attack.
The dementia disorder that usually occurs in people in old age is mostly caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
A Certain part of the brain that controls the memory is not able to function because of the reduced ability to use glucose for energy.
Besides glucose, the ketone body can be an alternative source of energy for the malfunctioning cells of the brain. Increasing ketone body production by the liver is found to be a good solution for preventing or reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The MCTs are proving to be a great therapeutic agent that can prevent or reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s. Some of the study results showed that consumption of MCTs got from coconut oil quickly improves the functioning of the brain in Alzheimer’s patients.
The Alzheimer’s disease and epileptic fits in children, which had no proper treatments so far, is finding new hope for a cure in ketone bodies that could be easily added to the body from the MCTs saturated fats found in coconut oil.
9. Coconut Oil Has Several Other General Uses And Benefits
So far we have been discussing several health benefits and cosmetic usages of coconut oil.
However, this oil has varied other uses as well. It is very handy in solving many household and industrial issues easily and effortlessly with the help of this oil.
We can easily substitute the normally used toxic chemicals with this natural oil to solve many issues we face in the workplace or at home; below given are a few examples.
- Good for metal polishing
- Useful for cleaning and sanitizing wooden cutting boards
- Moisturizing and polishing leather goods
- For Lubricating squeaky hinges, sticky mechanisms, strings of musical instruments, etc.
- A good alternative for furniture polish
- Paint remover from hands and paintbrush
- Removing chewing gums and sticky substances from any surface
- Rust remover from iron and steel
The list of coconut oil’s usefulness can be elaborated much longer. You can certainly experiment and find numerous other uses of coconut oil on your own as well.
The Bottom Line
Undoubtedly, no other natural edible oil is healthy and has several benefits like this. Before we conclude this must be noted, it is best to use virgin coconut oils to get the fullest benefits. Do NOT use any refined brand of coconut oils with a mixture of other oils and preservatives.
There is no need to believe in the false propaganda on coconut oil; probably it is done by agencies funded by corporate companies with vested interests in the commercial benefits of the particular oil they promote.